Over the years we’ve discovered that students in UR’s School of Professional & Continuing Studies (SPCS) tell their stories far better than we ourselves do. Peyton Lassiter, C’18, is just such a student. Here’s how this feature unfolded.

We learned from SPCS Dean Emeritus and University Professor Jim Narduzzi, who teaches one of the classes in our Weekend College program, that Lassiter had been accepted into a graduate program at the College of William & Mary. We like to publicize such milestones from our students and alumni, so we requested permission to share Lassiter’s story and confirm some of the details.

What we received from Lassiter is a detailed testimony to the transformative power of the Richmond degree-earning experience for students returning to school. This is Lassiter’s story.

Weekend College rehabilitated my dream of switching careers. I was frustrated with the pace of part time college courses, and I couldn't stomach impersonal online classes. My partner, Ricky Thompkins, GC’17 was attending SPCS for his Master of Human Resource Management degree, so I took a look at the [SPCS] website on a whim to see if there was anything that interested me.

Enter Weekend College. Taking one concentrated course at a time brought some focus to my otherwise jam-packed life of full-time work and full-time study. Belonging to a cohort that became a family also helped propel me through the program. As a full time student, I was able to take advantage of the University’s CAPS [Counseling & Psychological Services], where I received a level of care I had not experienced elsewhere. [The CAPS office] also inadvertently imparted some inspiration for my career.

I had a decade of experience in health care, but I had always been academically drawn to the humanities. As I researched careers where I could combine my experience with my interests, I came upon counseling, “a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals” (American Counseling Association) The more I learned about the profession, the more it seemed a natural fit for me. I took the GRE and thoroughly researched programs over the summer. I applied to six programs in all, which was no small feat in itself. My UR professors provided recommendations and encouraged me that I was ready for graduate work.

This fall, I will matriculate full-time at the College of William & Mary School of Education. My degree is a 63-credit Master of Education in Couples, Marriage, and Family Counseling. As part of our training, the small cohort of master’s and doctoral students run the New Horizons Family Counseling Center, a clinic in the School of Education which serves families of area public school children. This program prepares graduates to be both Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) in Virginia after completing a two-year residency and licensure examination. Once I am licensed and established for a few years, I would like to earn my doctorate degree.

To think it all started with a promise to myself that I would finish my bachelor’s before I turned 40.

We could tell his story no better. Thanks to Peyton for sharing.